Caitlin Gow: How I Hack Genealogy

caitlin gow

[Editor’s Note: Caitlin Gow, of the Genealogically Speaking blog, is a young (22 years old!) genealogist from Australia and she is the subject of this week’s How I Hack Genealogy Interview. Learn how Caitlin’s approach to genealogy is representative of the younger generation discovering the power of family history and embracing it with tech-savvy knowledge and energy.]

About Me

Name: Caitlin Gow

Title or position: Aspiring Young Genealogist/Criminology Student

Website or Blog:

Other social media links:

Age: 22

Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Technology I Use

Hardware (computer, laptop): Windows 8 Samsung Laptop; Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (Hmm, I didn’t realize I had a theme going here!)

Cloud storage: I use Google Drive.

Backup program or routine: 8GB USB sticks, 3 of them. Google Drive. I don’t back up as much as I probably should.

Printer: Dell v715w. It functions as a scanner also.

Are you “paper” or “paperless” or in-between?: In-between. I learn best by writing & scribbling notes on documents though.

Email program: Hotmail & Gmail. I have 5 personal e-mails & 3 University e-mails. Yeah….

Smartphone model: Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (Android).

Fave mobile app: Ancestry, Google Drive, Evernote, Keep, S Note…too many!

E-reader: I’ve only read one e-book. If I have to, Kobo on my mobile.

Web browser: Google Chrome.

Calendar program: Built in calendar on my phone, although I’ve heard good things about Google’s calendar.

RSS feed reader: None.

Fave social media:

1. Facebook.
2. Twitter.
3. Tumblr
4. Pinterest
5. Google+ (I’m still new there)

Genealogy database program: I have Family Tree Maker, but my laptop doesn’t have a CD Drive, so I haven’t been able to install it. I do know it is downloadable now from I need to do that.

Music player: iTunes

Blog platform: Tumblr for Genealogically Speaking, Blogspot for Young & Savvy Genealogists.

Other tech stuff : I had an ASUS Android Tablet, but that’s broken. I’d like to get a new tablet at some point. I also plan on getting a desktop computer in the future. I don’t use a mouse at home, or headphones.

Me and Genealogy

Number of years involved in genealogy: Four.

Professional or non-professional?: Non-Professional.

What I do (describe your role in the genealogy community): I’m a Gen Y young aspiring genealogist just trying to spread the word to other young people about genealogy & family history. I’ve also started YouTube-ing about my adventures in genealogy.

What I enjoy most about genealogy and family history: The ‘detective’ work! It fits in nicely with my degree! The joy you get from discovering new pieces of information, and doing happy dances in cemeteries when you finally stumble upon the grave of an ancestor you’ve been looking for. I also love the opportunities to collaborate and meet with other genealogists too.

What annoys me most about genealogy: That not everything is available online, especially when it comes to overseas records. And this whole stereotype that genealogists are people over 40 or 50 years old.

Genealogy super power: I have an amazing memory & an eye for small details.

Biggest advance in genealogy in the last five years: The digitization of more and more records!

What will always stay the same in genealogy: The need, want & drive to find that piece of information about an ancestor, or THAT ancestor.

What will need to change in genealogy: New technology and younger generations need to continually be embraced. Younger people know how to use the new technology. They can teach the older generations how to use it, and the older generations can teach them about genealogy. It’s a win win!

I also think that genealogy societies should have a membership category for those under 25, and perhaps dedicate one of their many frequent meetings for young genealogists to meet with each other & talk about their experiences, research, resources they use etc.

Closing Thoughts

My Secret Hack for Genealogy (a tip or trick): If you’re getting frustrated, take a break & do something else for a while (go for walk, do the grocery shopping, read a book etc.). Sometimes inspiration hits when you’re focusing on something else.

My other tip is to check the census records for your ancestor’s siblings. Sometimes, they just might surprise you.

Advice to a beginning genealogist: Enjoy the journey genealogy takes you on. It’s not just about what you find; enjoy the searching, the hunt, and the detective work – and yes, that does include the frustrating, pulling hair out moments. Research some local societies in your area & become a member – I didn’t, but that’s something I’m planning on changing.

Advice to a “lifer” genealogist: Be open to the changing technology and embrace the younger generations.

Open Forum

The support and friendship I’ve gained over the past year from other genealogists all over the world has been truly amazing, and something I honestly never expected.

Now is the time to spread the word about genealogy to younger generations and get them involved. I think a common myth about genealogy is that it is boring. It’s not. It’s definitely not. Genealogy is wicked fun – we just need to show them that.

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

About the Author

Thomas MacEntee
Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee has been researching his family history for more than 40 years and is the creator of Abundant Genealogy, Genealogy Bargains, DNA Bargains, The Genealogy Do-Over and numerous other web-based genealogy and family history properties.